With the Ravens stupid loss on Monday night (really Joe Flacco? 16 yards of offense in the first half?), I fell to 9-3-1 on the week instead of 10-2-1. Still my best week yet by a mile. I'm now above .500 on the season, sitting at 51-47-5 (67-36 straight up). I keep forgetting to do the Lock and Upset thing so let's just forget about that. Here are the week 8 picks:
Lions (5-2) @ Broncos (2-4)
Predicted Line: DET by 3
Actual Line: None (Stafford still questionable)
If Stafford plays, I'll pick with the line as DET by 3. If Hill plays, I'll say it's a pick em.
These are two teams with opposite surges of momentum. Detroit has lost 2 straight at home, their coach is perceived as an angry sweaty-toothed madman, their best defensive player is perceived as a dirty, arrogant, unrepentent prick, and their quarterback is hurt for the 7th time in 3 years, though really it's nothing serious and he should be fine.
Denver just eeked out a win against a winless team with their backup QB and suddenly Tim Tebow is the king of the freaking universe. Even LeBron James took to his Twitter to congratulate Tebow, saying quote: "he's just a winner." That statement is dripping with laughable, delicious irony. But rather than take the easy route by saying "how would LeBron know anything about being a winner?" I'm going to attack LeBron's motives.
Remember after The Decision when LeBron went from an averagely-liked athlete to a Top 5 Most Hated athlete in just one week, and pretty much everybody said the same thing: "He's gotta fire his entire PR crew." Well, apparently his new PR people are telling him to try to associate himself with likeable athletes. He's been Tweeting the praises of Tebow for years, trying to piggyback on perhaps the most beloved athlete in the country, hoping some of the love will someone fall on to him. Sorry LeBron, it's not working. Not even close. Nice try though.
Back to Tebow. Like I said last week, I have turned a corner and really started to like him as an actual NFL quarterback. I've always liked him as a person, because I have two eyes a beating heart. Tebow is a sincere, humble, hard-working raised-by-missionaries athlete who doesn't rub his faith in people's faces. No offense to Kurt Warner, whom I also like, but every single question doesn't need to be answered with "Well first of all, let me thank my personal Lord and Savior..."
But as an actual quarterback, I've done a 180 on Tebow. I think he'll have a good career, I think he'll win plenty of games, and I actually think Denver might be in playoff contention as soon as next year. Of course, Tebow the Person will always outshine Tebow the Player, but that's okay. He's unconventional and quirky, but he gets the job done. Will he ever lead Denver to the Super Bowl? I highly, highly doubt it. But am I scared of facing him this Sunday? Heck yes I am.
Fortunately, Denver doesn't have the weapons on offense that San Fran and Atlanta do. No Gore, no Turner, no Vernon Davis or Roddy White. Just a banged-up Moreno and the harmless Eddie Royal. Tebow doesn't have weapons. But as I heard on the radio yesterday, perhaps Tebow is the weapon.
[Real quick sidenote, speaking of radio. My personal nemesis, Sean Baligan, also known as the Worst Talk Show Host in the History of Radio, is officially gone from ESPN 96.1, never to be heard from again.
When I noticed Terp wasn't saying "Sean, Terp and Killer" at all yesterday, I thought something was fishy and called the show. Indeed, the producer of the show told me "Sean left the show yesterday to pursue new ventures. It was unexpected."
To be honest with you, I am having a rough month emotionally with family and home and new baby and stress at work and all those wonderful, crazy things, and this might have been the exact bit of good news that I needed to get me through the next two weeks. I nearly cried. I just said to the producer "Thank you so much. That's great news." It was like a tremendous weight lifted off my shoulders. You might think I'm kidding, but I'm totally serious.
You can't possibly imagine the depths of my hatred for Sean Baligan as a radio personality. He and I had an ongoing email dialogue in which I consistently begged him to quit his job. I routinely told him how terrible he was, but it wasn't just mean critical stuff. I gave him plenty of practical tips for improving, which he never implemented. I told him that his show was a 0.001 out of 10, and Huge was a 0.002, and thus I was listening to Huge now, just to ever-so-slightly increase the ratings of the Huge show in hopes that Sean would be fired. I actually preferred listening to commercials to either show.
I truly believe that my emails were instrumental in Sean's departure, and so, to all you sports-loving, radio-listening people in West Michigan - you're welcome.]
Anyway, back to Tebow. The dude is developing into a quality NFL quarterback, something I never thought he would be. But as of today, he's no where near ready. He's raw, unpolished, doesn't have an offensive coordinator who caters to his style (yet), and doesn't have any decent skill position players to work with. He has a sloppy release and accuracy issues, and he takes too many sacks. In short, he's a dead duck against Detroit's dominant defensive line. He'll probably make a few exciting plays, probably extend a couple plays with his feet, and maybe run for 30 or 40 yards. But in the end, he doesn't have the tools to put up big offensive numbers. Yet.
Detroit's offense will be without Best and possibly without Stafford, but they should still dominate. The toughest matchup once again goes to Jeff Backus, who has faced excellent pass rushers in 7 of his 8 games. Von Miller may be a rookie, but he's got 6 sacks already, which is incredible. Backus will need some help. But thankfully, Elvis Dumervil is out with an ankle injury, so Robert Ayers will play the other DE position. That's a huge advantage for Detroit.
The only other decent player on Denver's defense is 33 year old Champ Bailey, who will clamp down on Calvin with relative success. But the linebakers stink, the DTs stink, and Detroit should be able to have their way offensively, even with backups.
The key to this entire game is keeping the crowd out of it, and that is accomplish by keeping Tebow off the field. Detroit needs to limit the 3 and outs, which is tough to do without a running game. Hopefully Linehan redeems himself and calls a ton of short passes this week. For that type of game plan, I actually prefer Shaun Hill to an injured Stafford. I obviously want Stafford to play, but if he doesn't I don't think it affects the game very much at all. It takes away the deep pass, but that's about it.
We've currently got Chicago, Atlanta and Tampa chasing us in the Wildcard race. If we lose and any of those teams win, it's tied up. We can't let that happen. Not with the Packers poised to go 15-1. Detroit needs to start thinking Wildcard, and it's not gonna be easy in the NFC. It's probably going to require 11 wins to be safe. Detroit NEEDS to win this game, and they will win this game. 27-13.
Colts (0-7) @ Titans (3-3)
Predicted Line: TEN by 9.5
Actual Line: TEN by 9
Could this be the week that Chris Johnson finally does something??? He has only rushed for more than 55 yards one time this year. His YPC of 2.9 is dead last among running backs with at least 40 carries. He has fewer fantasy points that Michael Bush and Early Doucet. And his average draft position was 5.25 in fantasy leagues. Now he faces the 31st ranked rushing defense. Somethings gotta give.
Most likely, CJ will continue to struggle on most plays, but will break 1 or 2 big gains and surpass 100 yards. I don't love the Titans covering 10 points, but I really can't pick in favor of the Colts until I'm convinced they are trying to win. Tennessee 20-10.
Jags (2-5) @ Texans (4-3)
Predicted Line: HOU by 9.5
Actual Line: HOU by 9.5
After watching the Jags D completely obliterate the Ravens last Monday, I am very tempted to pick them. Blaine Gabbert hasn't shown any reason to believe he can play in the NFL, but the Texans defense without Mario Williams doesn't frighten me very much. I'm sure the combination of Andre and Arian will allow the Texans to gain more than 16 yards in the 1st half, but I still want the points. Texans win 23-14.
Vikings (1-6) @ Panthers (2-5)
Predicted Line: CAR by 3
Actual Line: CAR by 3
I was able to watch some of the Packers-Vikings last week, and Christian Ponder looked really decent. His stats were ugly, but against the best team in the league he held his own. He was clearly intelligent and confident, and had better speed than I expected. Overall, a huge upgrade over McNabb. Now he faces one of the worst defenses in the league, and that defense will have no choice but to put 8 in the box. Minnesota doesn't have any receivers, especially with Harvin hurt, but I still wonder if Ponder might be a sneaky good play in fantasy this week.
Cam Newton on the other hand has pretty much become a must-start every week. That Panthers offense is rolling. It's only a matter of time before Ron Rivera gets their defense to play too. They'll be good next year. But they still suck right now, and Minnesota has the three best players in this game: Jared Allen (11 sacks so far), Kevin Williams, and of course Peterson. I like the Vikes on the road, 27-24.
Saints (5-2) @ Rams (0-6)
Predicted Line: NO by 13.5
Actual Line: NO by 13
Bad news for Rams fans: This will be the 7th straight blowout loss.
Good news for Rams fans: Your next four games are @ARZ, @CLE, SEA, ARZ.
It's always risky to pick road favorites to cover huge spreads, and it's usually risky to pick the Saints to cover huge spreads. But you just can't pick the Rams right now. They are not only 0-6, but they are 0-6 ATS, which is much more heinous. I'll take New Orleans by 14.
Cardinals (1-5) @ Ravens (4-2)
Predicted Line: BAL by 10.5
Actual Line: BAL by 13
Going to fly though the rest but to keep it interesting let's do them in Haiku form.
Cards stink, Harbaugh pissed
Wells hurt, Flacco embarrased
Ravens win big time
Dolphins (0-6) @ Giants (4-2)
Predicted Line: NYG by 8.5
Actual Line: NYG by 9.5
Fins can keep games close
G-men without best player
That's Tuck, not Eli
Redskins (3-3) @ Bills (4-2)
Predicted Line: BUF by 6
Actual Line: BUF by 6
Skins offense all hurt
Thats Moss, Hightower, Cooley
and two lineman too
I like the Bills 13-3.
Pats (5-1) @ Steelers (5-2)
Predicted Line: NE by 3
Actual Line: NE by 3
Elite teams with flaws
Brady off bye is deadly
He always kills Pitt
Browns (3-3) @ 49ers (5-1)
Predicted Line: SF by 10
Actual Line: SF by 8.5
Browns are crap, crap, crap
But Alex Smith 9-point fave?
I guess I take points
Bengals (4-2) @ Seahawks (2-4)
Predicted Line: CIN by 1.5
Actual Line: CIN by 3
Seahawks always good at home
Hate NFC West!
Cowboys (3-3) @ Eagles (2-4)
Predicted Line: PHI by 3
Actual Line: PHI by 3.5
Hype, hype, hype, hype, hype
Hype, hype, Rob Ryan's hair, hype
Hype, Hype, HYPE, HYPE, HYPE!!!!!!
Chargers (4-2) @ Chiefs (3-3)
Predicted Line: SD by 4.5
Actual Line: SD by 4
Cassel consistently stinks
Chiefs D keeps it close
Happy Halloween. Go Lions.